What Are Project Plans?
A project plan is largely different from scheduling, and is the result of pre-planning. Changes in the project plan always impact the schedule. The project plan describes how the project will work. It is the main source of information about how the project is planned according to needs of implementation, monitoring, controlling and closing.
The project plan is a great tool in the hands of managers and it answers the following questions:
- What is the staff doing now? In what projects are they involved and when will they be free?
- Who is going to do new projects?
- What specialists will you ask to solve a problem that has suddenly arisen (to find and fix a critical problem or mistake that has arisen at the wrong time, talk with customer, etc.)?
- And finally, when everything else is good, just simply to wonder: how is the project going?
Developing a project plan is a repeatedly iterative process. The plan comprises a main document and a plurality of auxiliary regulations, covering each segment of project management.
The project plan provides a few scenarios. It depends on project size and degree of its completeness. It includes:
- Processes coordinated by a team of project managers.
- The level of implementation of every process.
- The tools and techniques that will be used for process implementation.
- The impact of these processes on the implementation of the main plan, including all dependencies and interactions between them, as well as the inherent costs and revenues.
- The scheme of the workflow to achieve the objectives of the project.
- Monitoring and controlling current changes.
- Management actions.
- Obtaining and using data on the basic project parameters.
- The needs of key persons and communication between them.
- Project life cycle stages or a combined scheme for multi-phase projects.
- Records from key managers on content, and the expansion of project and timing, which eases the understanding of current difficulties and unsolved problems.
The auxiliary plan, for example, may include these management plans:
– the volume of work
– the cost of the project
– the quality of work
– human resources
– communication between team members
How to Write a Project Plan?
The plan is not an “oath” or “forecast.” In many areas (including information technology) you can’t exactly predict the duration even for a part of the work. It may seem that this discredits the idea of planning, but it does not. The project plan is a plan of action for the entire project team, providing guidance on priority activities, the scope of work and the used control methods, and also identifying the stakeholders, what overall strategy to choose, how costs and personnel resources will be managed, quality standards in the project, how the project will liaise with stakeholders, how performance will be measured, the benefits, etc.
The plan should include the following main categories:
- project background
- dependency and impact
- problems and risks
- methods and strategies
- controls: scope, time, cost, quality, resources
- delivery schedule
- performance measurement
- realization of benefits
1. At the very beginning, decide the main purpose of the project. It is better to formulate and write a few sentences in the upper part of your plan. Of course, for this purpose you will use the Microsoft Word program, and maybe something a little more complicated, for example, Microsoft Project 2010. Give your project a catchy name that would help your employees or team members that are directly involved in generating ideas. For example, the name “Client X” is quite suitable for the project, dedicated to research consumer demand for products or services of your company.
2. Be sure to assign a leader to the project team. It is considered extremely difficult to develop a project plan where there is no specific person that can quickly make the right decisions. Enter the name of the leader in the upper part of the project plan. Type caption: “The main project manager Blake George”. This eliminates the possibility of confusion and tension in the relations between the participants of the project in terms of the question of who is in charge.
3. Then, focusing on the issue of how to write a project plan, you must determine the incremental tasks that are scheduled in the project. Indicate only clear goals, and assign staff responsible for each sub-section, and each individual task. Carefully calculate the budget for each task, as well as the necessary resources that will be required for its implementation. Set realistic deadlines for the completion of planned tasks.
4. Please use the following algorithm for the development:
– №1 task: organizing focus groups
– №1 goal: to interview a group of 10 potential buyers – apply function of paid research
– Dates: from 1 May until 10 May
– Budget expenditures: $12000 – pay the members of the focus group; $ 1000 – the cost of required materials
– Addition: rent a conference room equipped for electronic presentation
Responsible: John Smith
5. Project plan structure should have columns in which you will observe its progress. For example: “task in progress” and “completed” sections.
And then just try to apply all the above steps in practice.
Plan a “range.” Don’t require an accurate assessment where it can’t be given. Communication with all team members and experts will help you plan a project in such a way that you won’t need to ask for an oath from them to meet a certain date – you need a realistic assessment and possible deviations of deadlines. However, insist on realistic estimates. Speaking about the initiation of the project, we noted that what is acceptable is a rough estimate (with a range of fluctuation of +/- 50%). In some forms of planning, this accuracy would not suit. Depending on how far the project has progressed, the acceptable range may vary (+ 25 / -10% +/- 10%, and so forth).
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